One week after the 2012 election, activist groups such as the League of Women Voters of Florida, the AARP and Equality Florida held news conferences to demand reform Tuesday.
“People understand that what happened was completely unacceptable, totally inexcusable and absolutely fixable,” Nadine Smith of Equality Florida said of an election marred by long lines during early voting and on Election Day – and into that night in some places.
Afterward, it took Miami-Dade and Broward counties days to finish counting absentee ballots. Florida’s presidential election was called in President Barack Obama’s favor on Saturday, four days after the vote.
The groups’ demands for reforms are aimed at Gov. Rick Scott and the state Legislature.
“But it's too big of an issue for it to go away. They have to be able to see that their constituents are angry and upset,” said Margie Lee of the AARP in South Florida.
Members of the groups, including the NAACP, asked Scott and lawmakers to appoint a task force to review Florida’s election on Tuesday. They said the task force should offer recommendations to lawmakers before the start of next year's legislative session.
"What happened last week in Florida must never happen again," said Deirdre Macnab, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida, at a news conference in Orlando.
Scott, who refused to extend early voting after problems emerged, says “fixing it” is on his agenda.
“What I am trying to do is improve the way government works,” the Republican governor said, adding that he believes in efficiency.
Incoming Republican House Speaker Will Weatherford was noncommittal on how the problem should be solved.
“Whatever the solutions are, that they reduce the fact that you shouldn't have to sit in line for six hours to get your vote to count,” said Weatherford, of Pasco County.
The representative is, however, creating a House committee to deal with elections and ethics legislation. He said it would be responsible for gathering facts, talking to the public and getting feedback from supervisors of elections and past supervisors such as former Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio and former Secretary of State Kurt Browning.
Weatherford also said he supports the idea of an independent task force in addition to his committee.
The advocate groups say election problems include budget cuts to the state's election supervisors, a reduction in early voting days from 14 to 8, and a record-long ballot. The advocates say the problems have made Florida a national punch line for late-night comics.
A similar task force was created after election problems in Florida in 2000.